This week’s New In Chess Podcast episode features Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman. The Dutch legend talks to Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam about his participation in the upcoming Dutch Championship which starts on July 6.

Timman makes his comeback in the national championship after an absence of 18(!) years and 50(!!) years after he became Dutch Champion for the first time.

For many years Jan Timman belonged to the world’s best chess players, with a second place in the world rating list in 1982, behind Anatoly Karpov, as his highest ranking. In the years of Soviet domination, he was called ‘the best of the West’ and won countless international tournaments.

Timman’s exploits in the world championship cycle invariably created chess fever in the Netherlands, where he was seen as the natural heir to Max Euwe, who won the world championship in 1935.

Timman didn’t always participate in the Dutch championship, but when he did, he claimed the national title nine times between 1974 and 1996.

There are many reasons why Jan Timman should be a guest on our podcast, but this time, the occasion is his return to the Dutch Championship.

In the interview, he speaks openly about his preparation for the event (for the first time, he created computer files!), his adventures in the championship through the years, and his international successes. In the process, he treats the listener to anecdotes about Donner, Euwe, his father (a renowned mathematician), his brother Ton, and various top players.

If you’re interested in top-level chess, chess history, and good stories, you shouldn't miss this engrossing talk!

NB: The interviewer and the interviewee have been working together at New In Chess for many years. When they meet, they normally speak Dutch. They hope the listeners will forgive them for doing the interview in English!

The New In Chess podcast is published every Friday and can be listened to on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and the New In Chess website.    

00:00 – Intro
02:02 – Participating in the Dutch national championship again
04:03 – How did Jan work on his chess in the pre-computer era?
11:44 – Hein Donner stories
23:05 – Max Euwe stories
26:00 – Jan’s father’s initial objections to his chess career
29:25 – Jan’s brother, FIDE master Ton Timman
31:17 – AD BREAK
31:48 - Winning his first national championship fifty years ago, dominating the Dutch chess scene
35:41 – The rise (and stagnation) of rival Dutch players like Piket, Van Wely, Nikolic and Sokolov
38:07 – Gearing up for his first Dutch championship in 18 years
42:19 – When did Jan achieve his peak?
43:44 – What were Jan’s weaknesses as a player?
45:06 – Why did Jan’s contemporaries not achieve the same success?
47:00 – Does Jan still enjoy the game as much as before?
48:08 – Jan’s passion for composing endgame studies
50:36 – The upcoming Dutch championship
52:31 – Jan’s dream tournament and Kasparov’s deadly stare
56:02 – Outro